January 9th 2020 will go down as an unprecedented moment in British Royal history. By stepping down from their position as senior royals, apparently even without the blessing of the Queen, and striving for financial independence, the Sussexes are breaking new ground.
When I first heard the news that the UK would be gaining their first royal person of colour I was both joyous and extremely worried. Of course this was huge progress but was a country as institutionally racist as the UK ready to have a woman of colour in such a position? In short: no, no they weren’t. Even when Meghan was still Harry’s girlfriend, people were questioning his right to bring someone of bi-racial heritage into the Royal Family. She is scrutinised at every juncture. Although one could argue that such scrutiny comes with the job, the targeted attacks directed at Meghan are unprecedented. Since marrying into the family she has been subjected to a constant stream of racist abuse. In fact, the abuse has been so terrible it has prompted several lawsuits – something that Kate Middleton, for example, was never subject to. This country is still so racist that it has literally chased an innocent family with the best of intentions, out of the Royal Family. Shameful.
Despite the historic nature of this announcement, for many black and brown women around the world, this situation is all too familiar. Just existing, nevermind thriving, in a world where the odds are stacked against you can be exhausting at the best of times. The saddest thing about Meghan’s situation is that we all saw it coming and looked on powerlessly as they tore her down. Whilst the world was shocked by today’s announcement, everywhere black and brown women read the headlines with a knowing solidarity. Whether you’re battling against microaggressions at work or literally battling for your life in the face of a racist criminal justice system, as women of colour we are systematically and consistently disrespected in Western society. From being turned away from London night clubs because we are ‘too dark’ to having our ideas discredited and stolen (the #MeToo movement), we are constantly undermined.